Trick the brain to not feel pain

Just watching Mo Farah: Race of his life I really wish I could’ve been an athlete. I’m still holding out hope after reading about Tracy Morris who ran a phenomenal London marathon in 2004 when she was 36 and ended up going to the Athens olympics!

Anyway I wanted to write about the advice I got 10 days ago that’s got me back to running after that hideous foot injury. I ran 10 miles last Sunday at an average of 9.15 which I thought was impossible just a couple of weeks before.

So the Sunday before, I got my foot looked at by Daniel Wheelwright of Evolve Fitness. He worked his magic then I tried the treadmill. I lasted about 10 seconds because it really hurt.

He suggested I should try and trick the brain into thinking the ankle is OK by trying to run through the pain gradually. The theory was something like…if you move the ankle and foot normally even if it is painful, the brain will think everything is ok so the pain and stiffness will ease off. Well that’s how I understood it anyway.

At this point though I still couldn’t move my toes. So he put on some hot pink Kinesio tape around my ankle and suggested I try some miles. If it hurts try and run through the pain. If it gets worse stop, if it doesn’t keep going. Ice, rest and ibuprofen afterwards. He also said to wear a support during the run and the day after, again to trick the brain to thinking all is ok.

So I tried it. On the Monday I did a mile. I cried on the treadmill like a loser because I was so chuffed I could do it. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to run for weeks. On the Wednesday I did 3 miles, Friday did 5 and Sunday did 10. It still hurts to start with then eases off during the run until I stop. Then it’s just a bruised ache. It’s not swelling up too much and I could move my toes this week so it is definitely healing too.

The brain is such a powerful piece of kit and I guess when you really hurt yourself it stops everything to protect it. But for impatient people like me, as long as you’re not going to make the injury any worse, if you can push through the pain it actually makes everything move better. Well that’s how it’s worked for me.

And I’m not a complete nutter….I’m off the high heels and I’ve pulled out of the York 10k this Sunday as its on cobbled streets and has sharp turns (which I can’t do yet) so it’s a bit risky. Instead I have a 15 mile target for this Saturday on a lovely flat route from Newry to Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland. Looking forward to the views!

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